Today's question: can we trace the whereabouts of an ancestor, simply by relying on the reports revealed by his sons' records?
We're trying—ever so carefully—to retrace the footsteps of one Nicholas Schneider, following him backwards in time from his final home in Perry County, Ohio. As it turns out, we find reports—biographical sketches popular in that time period—of two of his grandsons. The catch: each of those grandsons claimed as their father a man not named in Nicholas' own will as one of his sons.
That man, called Peter Snider, lived during a time period when records did help researchers trace his footsteps. The only problem was, even if we can accept that he was indeed son of Nicholas, his statements about his origin changed, depending on the document being examined.
Let's take a look. Since Peter was born in 1816, the first document revealing his place of birth was the 1850 census. By then, Peter was an adult, married, and responsible for four children. His report: born in Pennsylvania.
Scratch that notion. By 1860, Peter apparently changed his mind. In a barely legible copy of the 1860 census, the abbreviation for Maryland, not Pennsylvania, can be discerned. Just to clarify, the 1870 census, weighing in for Maryland, broke the stalemate, and the 1880 census clinched the title. Maryland it was, just as the biography of Peter's son William said it would be.
But where in Maryland? The next step will be to determine not the state, but at least the county where we can locate any available records on German immigrant Nicholas Schneider and his family.